Welp, everything went about as smoothly as it possibly could have for the Ohio State Buckeyes on the first day of the NCAA Signing Period. But, on the second day, things came cratering down as the No. 47 player in the country, cornerback Clark Phillips III, announced that he had decided against continuing his playing career at Ohio State, and will now instead become a Utah Ute.
The change came almost immediately after rumors began swirling that co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley was departing the Buckeye program to take over at Boston College. Phillips, who is from La Habra, Cali. had originally committed to Ohio State in June 2019.
However, with his primary recruiter and position coach no longer in Columbus, Phillips opted to stay closer to home and in the Pac-12. He is the fourth-rated cornerback in the 2020 recruiting class nationally, and would have joined a class that includes two other top-300 corners Lejond Cavazos and Ryan Watts, both of whom signed on Wednesday.
Without Phillips in the mix, the depth for Ohio State at corner is in the air. Much will depend on if Shaun Wade returns for his redshirt junior season, or heads for the NFL Draft, like fellow third-year CB Jeff Okudah almost certainly will.
If Wade departs as well, that would leave rising-senior Amir Riep, who has been a key backup at times, along with juniors Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown as the likely starters. However, senior Marcus Williamson and sophomore Tyreke Johnson will also factor into those decisions.
Phillips had been expected to contend for a starting position, particularly in the slot, had he stuck to his OSU commitment. The corner had lasted visited Ohio State in November for the final home game of the season against Penn State, and tweeted that he was ready to get the next phase of his career started in Columbus on Dec. 1.